Friday, 16 November 2012 18:07

World News - 11.16.12

 

From Jenna Orkin in New York

Headlines

BP to pay $4.5bn in Gulf oil spill deal

"The payments include $4bn for criminal charges and $525m to security regulators. BP will plead guilty to 11 felony counts of misconduct or neglect in relation to the deaths of 11 men aboard the Deepwater Horizon when the rig blew up and sank in April 2010, as well as misdemeanour counts under the clean water and migratory bird acts. The company will plead guilty to lying to Congress.

"This marks the single largest criminal fine – $1.25m – and the single largest total criminal resolution – $4m – in the history of the United States," the attorney general, Eric Holder, told a news conference in New Orleans. "I hope this sends a clear message to those who would engage in this kind of reckless and wanton misconduct that there will be a significant penalty to be paid.""

What a load of crap. Ten times that amount would have been more appropriate, and the criminal prosecution of top management. $4.5 billion is a drop in the bucket to BP, a bump in the road only. It has no serious deterrent affect on any of the major oil companies. 

Eric "Place"-Holder and our "Just-Us" system on full inglorious display. - Wes

BP Pleads Guilty To Manslaughter, Other Criminal Charges For Gulf Spill

"Three former BP employees also face separate felony charges related to the spill, the Justice Department announced. Donald Vidrine and Robert Kaluza, BP drilling managers who oversaw operations on the Deepwater Horizon rig, were charged with 22 counts of negligent manslaughter for the deaths of the 11 rig workers. David Rainey, a former BP vice president in charge of exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, was charged with felony obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to Congress and federal law enforcement officials about the amount of oil leaking from the well."

Mere scapegoats, deserving as they may be. The real bad guys are in the Executive Suite. - Wes

Antibiotics crisis 'will mean routine infections are fatal'

German Energy Agency Chief 'We'll Need Conventional Power Plants until 2050'

"Stephan Kohler, the head of the German Energy Agency, says the country must act smarter and more realistically in its transition to renewable energy. The "feel-good" subsidies for locally produced wind and solar power have had unintended consequences, he says, and the environmental movement is often part of the problem."

"Kohler: When a new wind farm is opened and we're told how many thousands of households it can supply with electricity, that number applies to only a quarter of our demand. In Germany, 75 percent of electricity goes to industry, for which a secure supply -- that is, at every second, and with constant voltage -- is indispensable. Neither solar nor wind power are suitable for that purpose today. Both fluctuate and provide either no secure supply or only a small fraction of a secure supply. Solar energy has a load factor of about 1,000 hours a year. But there are 8,670 hours in a year."

Fish Tales Anglers Pull in Tropical Fish from the Frigid Baltic

Why Small Players Are Hunting For High-Risk Oil

Because that's all there is. It's like the corny joke, "Why did the fireman wear red suspenders?" "To keep his pants up." – JO

Another Jump in Jobless Claims? Blame Sandy  

As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining. - JO

Something In Afghan Soil Is Killing American Troops

"...USA Today reported today that 100 service members, mostly soldiers and Marines, are diagnosed with Mucor and Aspergillus terreus, tough-to-identify fungi that gets "blown-deep" into blast wounds.

The organism is especially dangerous because the wounded skin looks healthy at first, so doctors trying to preserve a limb will stop cutting before they get to the infection. But once the fungus gets to work, surgeons have to amputate more of the limb. Six of the 100 infected have died, Navy Cmdr. Carlos Rodriguez told USA Today.

The doctors said the fungi seems to have the greatest effects on troops with multiple or lower-body injuries, since they often also receive blood and therefore have weaker immune systems."

These Are Now The Most Important Maps And Graphics Available For Anyone Living In Israel

"This map by the IDF Homefront Command shows the distance from Gaza as well as the amount of time residents of nearby cities have to seek shelter once the air raid alarms go off."

US Business Confidence Continues Its Stunning Collapse

""Rising fiscal policy uncertainty is having an increasingly negative impact on business activity as the fiscal cliff looms, write the economists led by Vincent Reinhart. "After the status quo election results, the ideological divide that blew up the “Grand Bargain” in 2011 still exists. Risks are significant that a fiscal cliff deal won’t be reached by January 1, potentially a major blow to an economy that appears to be moving into year end with little momentum.""

"Rising fiscal policy uncertainty is having an increasingly negative impact on business activity as the fiscal cliff looms, write the economists led by Vincent Reinhart. "After the status quo election results, the ideological divide that blew up the “Grand Bargain” in 2011 still exists. Risks are significant that a fiscal cliff deal won’t be reached by January 1, potentially a major blow to an economy that appears to be moving into year end with little momentum."

East coast prepares for another battle with Mother Nature

"Residents along the east coast of the United States can't seem to catch a break, preparing for another nor'easter that may hit the area next week."

Residents along the east coast of the United States can't seem to catch a break, preparing for another nor'easter that may hit the area next week. 

Now the CIA Is Investigating Petraeus

"Meanwhile, off the record, current and ex-CIA officers are telling the press that they never liked Petraeus in the first place. A package of stories in Timeportrayed CIA analysts bristling at Petraeus’ martinet style. “The agency’s not a militaristic organization,” one ex-official huffs to the magazine, “They don’t welcome people barking orders without debate.” That follows on a story in The New York Times before Petraeus’ downfall that CIA officials were disinclined to fall in line behind the ex-general. “The attitude at the agency is, ‘You may be the director, but I’m the Thailand analyst,‘” went one memorable quote sourced to an anonymous CIA veteran.

“Military guys tend not to do well, because they treat senior people like Lt. Colonels on their staffs,” one former intelligence official tells Danger Room. “He tried to avoid that. But the [military] bearing is the bearing.”"

Is Petraeus going to be our next Lance Armstrong, fallen from (media) grace? Probably more like a new vehicle to attack Obama...

I never liked the guy either, and I was constantly sickened by the media and politicians on both sides fawning all over him. There is no magic behind Petraeus, only the magic of Uncle Sam's money to buy off would-be aggressors. Petraeus just proved himself to be one of the dumbest, most inept of Agency bosses, as he did the single most obvious no-no that everybody in the Agency knows not to do. The woman was writing a book about him for Christ's sake! Did he think she would NOT write about the affair, too? Classic case of stupid. And how many people has Petreaus disciplined for the same offence while in the military, included dishonorable discharges? Hundreds, I'd guess.

I have no sympathy, only scorn. - Wes

 

Economy

Eurozone falls back into recession

What were they in before? - JO

Postal Service reports record $15.9B loss

DTCC Provides Update On Status Of Flooded Securities Vault

Spain's Unpleasant Choice: Accept Lower Wages and Still Higher Unemployment, Leave the Euro and Default

Looking Ahead, Spain Worse Than Greece; Only One Realistic Solution

Fiscal cliff Q&A: 'Will all hell break loose?'

"Hopes for a bipartisan compromise on the "fiscal cliff" threatening the nation's economy are beginning to fade just 10 days after the election that will leave President Barack Obama in the White House and Republicans in command of the House. Obama on Wednesday drew a line in the sand, saying he was confident the problem could be resolved but that he would not approve an extension of Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans."

We'll see how intransigent the Republicans are when the automatic tax hikes kick in. They'll be squealing for a deal before then. - Wes

Pink slips for elves? Toy sales down

Housing recovery could also tumble off the 'fiscal cliff'

"If Congress drives the economy off the "fiscal cliff," wave goodbye to short sales that have helped the housing market get back on its feet.

At risk is a provision that erases taxes on selling a home for less than what's owed to the bank.

Expiration of the tax treatment would create a major new headache for the one in four homeowners who owe more than their house is worth. Those "underwater" sellers would have to come up with a big check for Uncle Sam to pay the tax on the difference."


Energy/Resources

Locals Walk the Trenches After Sandy

Occupy’s ‘wedding registry’ floods church with supplies

"A group of volunteers has collected something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue for Hurricane Sandy victims — by setting up an online wedding registry.

Three “Occupy Sandy” operatives working out of a Clinton Hill church have amassed 25,000 items worth more than $650,000, and are distributing them in the Sandy-ravaged Rockaways and Coney Island — all thanks to an online hub they set up as an Amazon wedding registry on Nov. 3."

The greatest book about mushrooms you'll ever read

Red Cross Spends Nearly $200,000 On Swanky Hotel For Sandy Volunteers

180 Million Rats Must Die This Month To Save The Galapagos Islands


BP May Escape U.S. Contracting Ban After Settlement

"The magnitude of the disaster argues for a ban, said Tiefer, who served on the U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting.

“For BP to get off without a suspension or debarment is like going to a maximum security federal prison and handing out a folder of pardons,” he said. “For what BP did to the Gulf of Mexico, it should be getting shock treatment, not just monitoring.”

Government agencies are allowed to suspend or disqualify companies from bidding on or receiving new contracts if they have committed or are suspected of committing wrongdoing. Debarred companies are able to work on existing contracts."

 

Military/Intelligence

Abu Qatada is moved to secret address after protesters target his home

Anonymous Attacks Israeli Websites

"“To the people of Gaza and the 'Occupied Territories', know that Anonymous stands with you in this fight," the group said in a statement. "We will do everything in our power to hinder the evil forces of the IDF arrayed against you. We will use all our resources to make certain you stay connected to the Internet and remain able to transmit your experiences to the world.""

Maker of Airport Body Scanners Suspected of Falsifying Software Tests

"A company that supplies controversial passenger-screening machines for U.S. airports is under suspicion for possibly manipulating tests on privacy software designed to prevent the machines from producing graphic body images.

The Transportation Security Administration sent a letter Nov. 9 to the parent company of Rapiscan, the maker of backscatter machines, requesting information about the testing of the software to determine if there was malfeasance."

 

Civil Unrest/Politics

Secession petitioners seek to re-enact the American civil war

"Evidently suffering from a nasty strain of Re-election Derangement Syndrome, some Americans want to leave the country. They don't want to flee to Canada or Mexico (too many foreigners), but create their own little nations in which they can breathe the unregulated air of liberty, free from the godless, Kenyan, Muslim, Marxist tyranny of Barack Hussein Obama.

Secession is back. White supremacists, Christian fundamentalists, and other malcontents lost in the back streets of Crazytown, post petitions on the White House's "We the People" website, demanding that their state be allowed to separate from the Union. While the polar ice melts, the US army's top brass struggle to contain bimbo eruptions and Israel does its damnedest to start the third world war, these sore losers want to re-enact 1861."

What Does It Mean that Residents in All 50 States Have Filed Petitions to Secede?

Collapse. - JO
My take is that wide-spread racism is alive and well in the USA. - Wes

 

From Rice Farmer in Japan

Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards

IMF ready to provide funds to help Tunisia recovery

Canadian personal debt levels soaring

"The debt load of Canadian consumers excluding mortgages has soared 400 percent in the past five years, the TransUnion credit reporting agency said Wednesday."

China’s Bad Loans Rise for Fourth Quarter as Economy Slows

"Chinese banks’ bad loans increased for a fourth straight quarter, the longest streak of deterioration since the data became available in 2004, highlighting pressures on profit growth as the economy weakens."

Economy Has Green Shoots From China to U.S. as Data Surprise

Oh, brother! More "green shoots"! Let's get this straight: There will be — there cannot be — a recovery and return to the good old days. Just as before, the "green shoots" will wither on the vine. Any economic spurt will be short-lived as energy prices rise in response to increased demand and strangle the recovery. -- RF

Good News: EU Budget Talks Collapse, France Rejects Compromise; Still Time to Snatch Defeat From Jaws of Victory

French CEOs: 'Help!'

Biggest Bankruptcies Of 2011

Losses May Accelerate For Thai Stock Market

Metal, steel industries warn EU efficiency laws could force them out of Europe

"Steelmakers and other metals industries fear that limits the EU is considering imposing on the amount of natural resources they use will push them out of Europe, where environmental regulations are less stringent."

Eurozone back in recession

Spain suspends home evictions for most needy

Visualizing The World's Rich (Infographic)

 

Airline Death Spiral

Airline Travel Is Becoming More Difficult, Less Affordable

Small airports gamble with revenue guarantees

Thai Airways International reports double-digit profit decline in 3Q2012

Empty Skies Prompt Calls for Lights-Out at Idle Airport Towers

ANA's Oct. China flights log 24% passenger drop


Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums

More deaths reported as Israeli military, Gaza militants trade fire

Gaza conflict: Israel mobilises troops as rockets hit Tel Aviv

New Russian Law Broadens Definition Of Treason

Thousands Seen Dying If Terrorists Attack U.S. Power Grid

"A terrorist attack on the U.S. power grid could be more destructive than superstorm Sandy, possibly costing hundreds of billions of dollars and leading to thousands of deaths, the National Academy of Sciences said."

Mali: U.S. Africom Ready to Consider Requests for Mali Intervention Support, Says General Ham

Is Israel Escalating War on Gaza to Foil US-Iran Deal?

Israeli Troops Massed on Gaza Border, Poised for Invasion


Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks

Greece: Protesters break into conference where German official was speaking

Protester Killed in South African Farm Strike

Spanish police fire rubber bullets at protesters in Madrid

Strikes, protests as anger over Jordan fuel hike spreads



Energy/resources

India suffers over 11% power generation loss in 2011-12: CEA

Bladeless Turbine: The Future of Wind Energy?

Cheap electricity era is over (Israel)

Canada expects high winter energy prices

South Stream one step closer to build

Canadian Solar Falls to Record Low on Reduced Forecast

"Canadian Solar Inc. (CSIQ), the third- largest maker of solar panels, fell to a record low after third- quarter sales slumped and the company reduced its shipment forecast for 2012."

The solar power debate is still ongoing and undecided

"The Desertec concept was stunning in its grandeur, and price. But it is now fast biting the dust. There’s no money for the €400bn (R4.5bn) project, fewer industrial backers and, more telling, European governments are leery of relying on imports for their power, particularly imports inextricably bound to unstable countries."


Got food?

Russian food inflation drives concern over grain curbs

"Spiking grain prices are forcing up the cost of food for Russians and are set to rise further by spring, when one of the world's largest wheat exporters will face a supply deficit, senior officials, analysts and traders say."

Fall crop harvest forecasts are down

"The drought sharply cut the Kansas fall harvest, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture."

KENYA: Rice farmers lose harvest to floods

Grain reserves severely depleted: GMB

"ZIMBABWE’S strategic grain reserve is severely depleted with stocks currently at 184,000 metric tonnes against the ideal 500,000 metric tonnes."

Ocean-grabbing threatens the food security of entire communities


Environment/health

America's Shadow Pharmacies

Superbug bacteria found in Super 8 and Sheraton chains

As Myanmar Opens to World, Fate of Its Forests Is on the Line

Families say homes making them ill (US)

Loophole Lets Toxic Oil Water Flow Over Indian Land (US)

BP to pay record penalty for Gulf oil spill


Intelligence/propaganda/security/internet/cyberwar

NSA: Looking for a few good cybersecurity professionals

Obama signs secret directive to help thwart cyberattacks

"President Obama has signed a secret directive that effectively enables the military to act more aggressively to thwart cyber­attacks on the nation’s web of government and private computer networks."

For Sale: Cheap access to corporate computers

New, stronger cyberthreats seen for 2013

The ultimate limit of data centre resiliency

"Today’s data centres are being built with multiple safeguards against data loss, power loss and to some degree, the elements.  But as we saw with Hurricane Sandy, once your diesel generators get flooded with sea water, it doesn’t matter what level of resiliency you’ve taken your data centre to: It’s game over."

10,000 ID fraud gangs active in US, especially the Southeast, study finds

Israelis and Palestinians in first Twitter war

Nasa to encrypt data after its latest laptop loss


Systemic breakdown

City's infrastructure problems continue with two water main breaks Monday

More money needed to deal with crumbling infrastructure, Canadian cities tell feds

Power blackout plunges Munich into traffic chaos

Nearly 4,000 in Jersey City back in the dark thanks to network failure, PSE&G says

United Airlines’ Computers Out — Again

"In its third major computer outage since June of last year, United Airlines has once again left passengers waiting at its gates at major airports around the country."

Russia loses contact with satellites, space station


Japan

New condo supply down 14.4% in Tokyo in Oct.

Disaster-hit towns face massive staff shortages

Fault study at Oi nuke plant may impact all offline reactors

"Noted geologist worries warning signs will continue to go unheeded"


China

China's major steel mills report rising losses

"Almost half of China's large- and mid-sized steel mills reported losses during the first nine months of 2012, the China Iron and Steel Association said on Wednesday."

Impending Bad Debt Headache Likely Bigger Than Expected


UK

'Long and winding road’ to economic recovery, says Bank of England Governor

They have to say something to string the public along and buy time… for the recovery that will never come. -- RF

Ash dieback came after tree disease already at record high

"Outbreaks of tree disease in England were at a record high this year – even    before ash dieback was discovered in the country, according to the Forestry Commission."

Moody’s to Assess U.K.’s Aaa Rating in 2013 as Economy Slows


US

No more Twinkies? Strike may do in Hostess

Region straddling line from growth to contraction month to month

"The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its key mid-Atlantic manufacturing index dropped sharply in November, falling back into a contraction."

Jobless benefit claims skyrocket in week

Line For Food Stretches Two Football Fields Long In Greece, NY

Census: U.S. Poverty Rate Spikes, Nearly 50 Million Americans Affected

Superstorm boosts jobless claims, hits factories

"Superstorm Sandy drove a surge in new claims for jobless benefits last week and hurt factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region in November, signs it could deal a substantial blow to economic growth in the fourth quarter."

Dell Sales, Profit Miss Estimates On Dip In PC Demand, Global Tech Spending

U.S. workers endure ‘lost decade’ of declining wages

Postal Service Reports Record $15.9 Billion Loss

Ron Paul Bids Farewell To Congress, Says Constitution Has Failed

"Paul has always criticized the government, corporatism, taxation policies, war and federal spending. His unwavering commitment to his ideology gained him millions of supporters. And in his farewell speech, he lambasted government once again for moving away from the founding principles of the Constitution."

Ron Paul: One of the last champions of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Where do you stand now? -- RF

FBI's abuse of the surveillance state is the real scandal needing investigation

FHA close to running out of reserves: report

"The Federal Housing Administration is expected to report later this week that it could exhaust its reserves because of rising mortgage delinquencies"

Bernanke Laments Lack Of Housing Bubble, Demands More From Tapped Out Households

Is a College Degree Worth It? You Decide

"Interviewing various bouncers, bartenders, pedicab drivers and other low-skilled workers along Bourbon St. in New Orleans, Peter found almost everyone had an expensive college degree. And not meaningless ones, either. He found people with advanced degrees in neuroscience, robotics, radiology, and mechanical engineering, to name but a few. One woman who works as a sign holder said she 'lucked out' by owing only $25,000 in student loans!"

What Does It Mean that Residents in All 50 States Have Filed Petitions to Secede?

Yields on top-rated muni bonds strike new lows

Coffin Collapse Shows Risk of Muni-Backed Bonds

 

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